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Date: Monday 1st November (online event)

The Quadram Institute and the Internet of Food Things Network Plus invite you to attend a strategic workshop addressing the interplay of data-driven science and innovation in the food system, food safety and food-related health.

In other words, how can the kinds of interdisciplinary activities that the Internet of Food Things Network (IoFT) and the Quadram Institute do be applied to UKRI research topics in order to address government food strategy goals as well as broader sustainability goals.

This event should help set the scene and establish the kind of strategic thinking needed.

The aim of the event is to:

  • Establish a better understanding of government policy and wider societal needs for the food/health system,
  • Initiate more collaborative thinking across disciplines and between institutions to prepare approaches to addressing these opportunities,
  • Share this thinking with representatives from various policy and regulatory bodies: Defra, FSA, UKRI, OAI, Innovate UK etc

Further details and registration: Online conference: Data, science and policy for a healthy food system

The National Food Strategy recognised that “digital technology” has the power to transform the food system for the public good, for instance by creating a safer food environment (improved track and trace), driving the food system to net zero (enabled consumer choice of low carbon cost food), reducing food poverty (high productivity food systems) or reducing food waste (matching food supply to demand).

However, the full potential of a "digital food system” can only be realised if permissioned data can flow across complex supply chains and between multiple commercial (farms to retailers) and regulatory actors (FSA, HMRC).  Governing this exchange of data whilst enabling a public good as well as protecting commercial and personal interests remains one of the key challenges across the digital economy.

Our proposed solution are ‘data trust frameworks”, now published in Nature Food http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00346-1. Our solution realises that technology alone is unlikely to transform the food system, transformation requires new modalities of data governance and trusted collaboration.

The article builds on the interdisciplinary work of the EPSRC-funded Internet of Food Things Network Plus and a collaborative project with law firm Pinsent Masons that was funded by the Food Standards Agency.

We strongly welcome the launch of the independent National Food Strategy today. This bold initiative analyses the raft of challenges facing our food system and proposes a collection of achievable recommendations that address these pressing challenges. Of particular interest to us is recommendation 12: Create a National Food System Data programme.

Over the last few years the Internet of Food Things Network Plus led by the University of Lincoln has brought together a vibrant network of researchers and food business innovators who have been looking at many of these challenges and opportunities. The cross-cutting theme that unifies many of the proposed actions is the need to securely and purposefully share and exchange data. Doing so is foundational to the application of digital solutions. To this end, we have also completed a collaborative project with the Food Standards Agency to develop a plan for a Trust Framework for data sharing in the food system. The Law firm Pinsent Masons also contributed their experience and expertise in this area to define the legal underpinnings of the Trust Framework.

A Trust Framework for the food system would provide a solid foundation to enable the secure and permissioned exchange of data between independent collaborating organisations in the food system. These could include businesses such as food producers, supermarkets, hauliers and others, as well as regulators such as the Food Standards Agency. The motivations for investigating how to better orchestrate the sharing of food system data included: reducing waste, improving healthy eating, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the ability to reuse data such as food checks, and to increase resilience in the food system.

Delivering and maintaining a Trust Framework for data sharing would require a governance system that included a forum for representative stakeholders to provide oversight of a delivery team, potentially in the form of a separate legal entity, that set and monitored the core protocols necessary to enable interoperability between the independent services that make up the food system.

The Trust Framework itself does not collect data, rather it enables the orchestration of data exchanges between consenting parties. Furthermore, these secure transactions can be configured such that trusted third parties may derive secondary insight that can be of benefit to the parties, for example the optimisation of freight traffic, or else address the kind of societal benefit opportunities described in recommendation 12 that can be enabled through a “layered” permissions model.

We are now beginning the process of taking forward these ideas and building a community of stakeholders who will benefit from and are willing to support a Trust Framework for data sharing in the food system. In addition to linking to similar initiatives in other countries notably The Netherlands, we are also collaborating in other UK projects to better understand the pressing needs of all stakeholders in this critical infrastructure for the Country.

Further details on the Food Data Trust approach can be found in the two documents hosted here on the Food Standards Agency website:

Food Data Trust: A framework for information sharing: FSA website

https://www.food.gov.uk/research/research-projects/food-data-trust-a-framework-for-information-sharing

To get in touch please contact us via: info.foodchain@lincoln.ac.uk

Three Pilot Projects Launched to Showcase Cutting Edge Agri-Food Research in the UK

The Internet of Food Things Network Plus has funded three pilot projects designed to drive Internet of Things innovation in agri-food production.

A total of £150,000 has been awarded to the University of Aberdeen, the University of Stirling and the University of Nottingham for projects related to Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in the agri-food industry. The projects will last for six months and preliminary findings will be presented at the Internet of Food Things Network Plus Conference in September.

Professor Simon Pearson, Director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology at the University of Lincoln, said: “Food production is a significant and critical sector. These three diverse projects take forward the vision of the network to harness the benefits of cross-cutting research for the benefit of the UK’s agri-food industries.”

The University of Aberdeen was successful in their application for funding with their project “PROoFD IT!: Provenance of Food Delivery through IoT” which will explore the potential of IoT devices to enhance food safety in B2B and B2C food delivery contexts.

Principal Investigator Professor Peter Edwards said: “IoT technologies have real potential to transform the food industry; but we need to be careful about what data we collect, how we represent it, and where we store it in order to maximise its potential. In this pilot project, we are bringing together bleeding edge technologies for IoT sensing, semantic data representation and blockchain business networks to explore future possibilities for safer and trusted food deliveries.”

The University of Stirling was also successful with their project “Use of sensors to improve pig productivity” which will seek to identify ways in which data can be used to enhance efficient and sustainable pig farming.

Principal Investigator Professor Rachel Norman, Chair in Food Security and Sustainability at the University of Stirling, said: "The University of Stirling is delighted to be involved in this project, which provides us with the opportunity to use data science to gain an invaluable insight into pig productivity. Ultimately, it will allow us to explore how we can transform this data - currently used purely as a monitoring tool - into a management tool."

The University of Nottingham was also chosen to receive funding for their project “IoT enhanced Factory Cleaning” which will investigate how data and IoT technologies can be used to detect the presence of allergens and enhance the cleaning of food factories

Principal Investigator Dr Nicholas Watson stated “The IoFT feasibility project will enable the University of Nottingham to investigate some of the opportunities and challenges of using data, machine learning and other digital manufacturing technologies in the critical area of food and drink factory cleaning. We will be working closely with manufacturers ranging from SME to multinational to discover the role these technologies will play in future cleaning operations.”

The three pilot projects will be presenting their preliminary findings at the Internet of Food Things Network Plus Conference in September in Lincoln which is being held from the 17th to the 19th of September. Topics will include data trusts, digital technologies and new economic models for the digitalised food production supply chain. The next funding call for up to £50,000 per project will also be announced. For registration and further details please visit www.foodchain.ac.uk/ioft-conference-2019.

 

Graphical capture from: Digital technologies for improving productivity in food manufacturing. A joint event from The Internet of Food Things Network Plus and the Centre for SMART. Held at Loughborough University London on 2nd April, 2019

The Centre for SMART at Loughborough University collaborated with the Internet of Food Things Network Plus to host an event that targeted players in the food manufacturing industry, as well as policy makers, and aimed to provide attendees with the opportunity to learn from companies and technology providers on best practices to successfully implement current digital technologies in food manufacturing and to discuss policy and regulatory challenges to the uptake of such technologies within the UK Food Sector.

A full report will be available later, but this drawing was produced by Becky James from Natalka Design who was commissioned to capture the complexity of the presentations and discussions that took place at the event.

We therefore acknowledge the contribution that all attendees at the event made to this illustration.